Melissa’s Strength Training Program

hpim18552You might recall that about a month ago I met with my trainer, Cristi, for the first time.

We went through one sample “day” each time we met, but because of my trip to Mexico and then being out sick for a week, it literally took us five sessions to get through everything.

Now I’ve completed a little over a week on my own, and I thought I’d share what my regimen looks like.

She isn’t hell-bent on cardio the way I am, but though I’m not stating it explicitly with each session, you can assume I’m doing 45-60 minutes cardio six days a week, in addition to this lifting schedule (with random biking and walking thrown in when the weather cooperates).

Knowing my goals (to slim down again and get toned) she designed my lifting program to be heavily cardio-centric. In fact, I wear my heart rate monitor the whole time and because I’m doing super-sets with limited time to rest, my heart rate really gets up there even while lifting (an added bonus, which means technically some days I can cut back on cardio a little more).

Unlike what I’ve done in the past (full body circuits three days a week) she has me working specific body parts once a week, with two days dedicated solely to cardio and my abs (which I can do at home if I’m short on gym-time) and one day dedicated to cardio and my core.

Here goes!

Abs Circuit (Twice a week, 3 sets of 12 reps unless specified)
-Reverse crunch with leg left
-Decline crunch with twist, 5 lb weight)
-Iso abs (side plank with pumps), 12 each side
-Throw downs

Core Circuit (Once a week, 3 sets of 12 reps unless specified)
-Side bends with 15 lb weights, each side = 1 rep
-Floor Planks (30 seconds each side)
-Opposite arm/leg reach with ankle weights; elbow plank for 15 seconds between sets
-Single leg ball bridge, kick each leg out = 1 rep; 12 thrusts between sets

Chest with Super-Set Tris/Bis (Can mix super-sets; once a week, 3 sets of 12 reps unless otherwise specified)
-Single arm dumbbell press, 15 lbs
-Super-set: Single arm skull crushers, 8 lb balls
(Repeat, Repeat)
-Single arm cable flys/single arm cable presses =1 rep, 10 lbs.
-Super-set: Overhead rope extension w/ lunge, 20 lbs.
(Repeat, Repeat)
-Ball Pushups
-Super-set: Two way push-downs (palms down, palms up = 1 rep)
(Repeat, Repeat)

Back with Super-Set Tris/Bis (Can mix super-sets; once a week; 3 sets of 12 reps unless otherwise specified)
-Single arm seated row, 20 lbs
-Super-set: Single arm, single leg stability lunge hammer curls (8 lbs each arm)
(Repeat, Repeat)
-Lateral pull-down, 45 lbs
-Super-set: Single leg 2-way rope curls – curling up, 15 lbs. 12 reps on each leg = 1 set
(Repeat, Repeat)
-Single leg straight arm lateral pull-down, 15 lbs.
-Super-set: 21s using 18 lb. bar (7 curls halfway up, 7 curls halfway down, 7 curls all the way up- down; 3 sets total)
(Repeat, Repeat)
-Pelvic thrusts on ball with two 12 lb. weights on pelvis

Shoulders & Legs (Once a week, 3 sets of 12 reps unless otherwise specified)
-Umbrella raises, 4 lbs. (lateral, forward, down, reverse = 1 rep)
-Upright Row/single arm frontal raise w/ 8 lb. weights = 1 rep
-Single leg scapulation (arc) and press, 5 lb. weight

-Single leg box steps with dumb-bell (5 lbs. each arm)
-Super-set: lying abduction (side leg lift; knee it and leg up = 1 rep)
(Repeat, Repeat)
-Walking Lunge with ankle weights and carrying 10 lb. weights in each arm
-Super-set: On mat, on knees, leg lift (12), pulse knee up (12)
(Repeat, Repeat)
-Single leg outer thigh abduction cable, 10 lbs.; Single leg glute extension, 25 lbs. = 1 rep.
-Super-set: Single Leg squat touch with 8 lb. weights
(Repeat, Repeat)

And that’s it … it looks a lot more complicated than it might appear on your screen. (She color-coordinated it for me).

For the actual lifting days (three days a week; four if I break up shoulders and legs instead of pairing them) it’s about 30 minutes of lifting each session. Not too terrible. And the abs/core days are only about 15 minutes each.

It’s very doable with my lifestyle and now that it’ll be getting warmer out, I’ll probably switch back to a couple morning gym sessions a week.

In six weeks we’ll bump up my weights, and in twelve weeks, we’ll re-measure me. All in all, I’m cautiously optimistic.

My body has reacted well to weights in the past, in terms of trimming me down; I just needed someone to push me. I am looking forward to seeing changes by summer-time. And if nothing else, I’ll feel stronger and leaner, more in tune wih my body.

I’d say that alone is worth it!


6 thoughts on “Melissa’s Strength Training Program

  1. I’m going to steal some of these ideas! It’s great to have a schedule to stick to so your workout is a no-brainer and you get the most bang for your buck.

  2. Hmmm, I am going to be bold and hope this doesn’t come out wrong (tone is hard to do in writing) but I will give my two cents here. I have lifted for years and worked with some top notch trainers and also participate on a few fitness/training forums that are moderated by some of the top trainers/experts in the fitness industry….people with PhD’s in sports science, etc who write the college text books. So while I am not a professional, I have learned a lot over the years from credible sources.

    I am really suprised she gave you a bodypart spilt workout when your goal is to lose weight/fat. Also, many of the moves she gave you are just not effective (and often considered verboten like the adduction/abbduction which are always top the worst exercises list.

    Full body workouts burn much more calories and provide a greater overall metabolic boost and are what is recommended for people wanting to lose weight/fat and gain strength overall. Also, when doing full body workouts you work your muscles (the major and minor muscle groups) together which is how our bodies were meant to move. There is no move in the world that requires you to use your biceps or triceps alone, therefore it is not recommended to work them in isolation.

    Body part splits are typically only recomended for body builders/figure competitors who really need to zero in on certain areas for aesthetics and that is done after they have developed a really strong base all over.

    Personally I would find another trainer and ask for a full body routine that utilizes compound moves. I highly recommend the book New Rules of Lifting for Women for information about proper lifting. IT also has a great workout program but the info alone is worth the price of the book.

  3. Thanks, Kristen.

    Thanks, Lara. I welcome your input and can appreciate constructive criticism, so thank you — you do know a lot about lifting, def. more than me.

    I’ve always done total body circuits before, myself, when I was in lifting mode, and so I was surprised, myself, when she suggested breaking it down into specific body parts and super-setting until they’re fatigued … vs total body (we discussed the benefits of both).

    I guess I’m stuck b/c I don’t know that they are “ineffective” as I feel stronger already, but it could be mental too. She has me doing legs and shoulders together, so that’s two major muscle groups, and then back/tris/bis and chest/tris/bis.

    Since some of them are on one leg, and nothing is seated (except the lat pulldown and row) I guess I felt like it WAS a good total body workout, esp. since my core is engaged in many of the exercises.

    I will see about that book you’re recommending; her program for me is 12 weeks. Maybe I’ll ask her tomorrow about how I’d switch up my routine to be total body three days a week vs. individual parts. Frankly, I can’t remember the reasons why she went this route with me.


  4. Standing vs seating doesn’t make it a full body workout. Your legs are not getting worked, even when standing on one leg.
    Also, it is not a matter so much of say doing legs and shoulders together, rather you should be hitting chest/back/quads/hamstrings/glutes/ in each workout in some capacity. The big compund moves like squats, lunges, step-ups, deadlifts hit both the quads and hamstrings at once so you get a 2-for-1 with those. Dumbbell bench presses hit the chest and triceps together as does push ups. Good back moves hit the biceps as well. The idea is to do more of those types of moves 2-3 times a week to build strength and muscle. And don’t worry–you wont’ “bulk up” it is virtually impossible for women to bulk without steroids or eating massive quantiies of food. Bulk is a function of excess fat, not havnig built big muscles. It is quite had for women to build lots of muscle, especially when dieting.
    Do you know what the trainer’s certifications/qualifications are? Most commerical gym trainers really are lacking good knowledge. The best trainers tend to work at small private training studios. There are excpetion to the rules of course but more than not this is the case.

  5. I didn’t mean to imply that it was a full-body workout; just that it’s not like I’m sitting the whole time and I’m still doing cardio every day. I am not worried about bulking up … but I am concerned that this routine she gave me might not be effective, if what you’re saying is all true (I hear so many conflicting things nowadays that it’s hard to know).

    That said, I just read in Women’s Health about how a trainer never should have you partition off a body part, and that’s what she has me doing so … I’ll talk to her.

    I don’t know what her certifications are; I probably should have checked first but I was eager to get started.

    Anyway, thanks for your feedback and concern — it’s not falling on deaf ears!!!

  6. I have been following Commando for some time and from the fence and have tried some of the exercises. They seem like a good fit for me and are quite challenging, and I think I am ready to purchase one program or the other (e.g TF Commando or the newer TF Warrior). I wondered if you would please comment on any differences. I am interested in some aspects of both programs. How are they different? My interest is for general fitness and martial arts.

    Appreciate whatever comments you can offer, and thanks for such extensive reviews.

    Happy Holidays

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